Status update meetings are ones where no decisions are made and no forward planning takes place. As such, they can be considered superfluous to well-run organisations and effective collaborations. There are better ways to manage people and projects.
I find that status update meetings are a bad habit that organisations get into for one of several reasons. It could be that they don’t know better. With these kinds of organisations, working with WAO and organisations like us can be a revelation. In fact, that’s been the case many times, especially with smaller charities.
Another reason for the status update meeting can be a lack of standardised toolset. In these kinds of organisations, everyone uses their own ‘to-do’ list, from pen and paper through to some complicated digital workflow. The status update meeting therefore acts as an inefficient kind of ‘API’ (or translation) between these siloed systems.
A third reason that status update meetings exist is that people are employed to work fixed hours. This is the most pernicious. It might not even be a conscious thought, but if you’ve got hours to fill, there’s nothing as low-bar as a status update meeting to while away the time.
The easiest way to get out of the habit of status updates is to know what the alternative is, to decide on a standardised toolset, and to turn those meetings into co-working sessions.
At WAO we used the simplest tools possible to get the job done. Over-complicated toolsets and workflows are the enemy of collaboration and, in fact, can be thought of as a form of procrastination.
Essentially, all you need is a place to put three lists: To Do, Doing, and Done. If you’re physically co-located this could even be on a wall. WAO uses Trello as we find it everyone just ‘gets’ it. You can add extra lists as necessary (we use ‘Epics’, ‘Feedback’, and ‘Zombie Garden’).
What this means is that status update-related conversations happen on the Trello board. The meetings that used to happen to keep everyone up-to-date can now either be eliminated or turned into co-working meetings.
At WAO, we have at least one co-working meeting per client every week. In these meetings we check in, bringing our full selves to work, prioritise what needs doing, and then either work on those things together, or divide and conquer. As we’re fully-remote, the latter looks like muting audio and video for a set period of time (usually 15, 30, or 45 minutes) and working on a task. We can can unmute and ask questions if necessary.
The above can sound like it might drain the fun out of work. I can assure you it’s the opposite. Status update meetings drain energy out of people and projects. Co-working and representing progress visually is invigorating.
I’m always on the lookout for ways in which I can be more productive and increase my creative outputs. Time is precious when you’re a teacher, husband and father! Whilst I recommend you subscribe to blogs like Lifehacker and Lifehack.org directly, I’d like to share with you some of the tips and ‘lifehacks’ I’ve found useful recently:
If you’re not using FriendFeed yet, you should be! I’ve been using it for a couple of months and find it very useful. It’s like the river of news and updates you get on Facebook (or at least last time I checked). The difference is that it’s people in the edublogosphere so it’s things related directly to professional learning. The quality of links, recommendations, etc. I get through FriendFeed means that I actually check my feed reader less often now (and use Feedly instead of Google Reader when I do…)
Tree Style Tabs – allows you to hierarchically organize tabs in a vertical manner in your sidebar. Much more useful than it sounds!
Picnik – allows you to capture and edit screenshots online.
Zemanta – adds features when creating blog posts like related articles, suggested tags, links to Wikipedia articles, etc.
It’s worth trawling through the Mozilla Firefox addons site and/or doing a Google search for recommended extensions. There’s some great one out there! 🙂
3. How Priorities Make Things Happen
I know from experience that I work much better and in a more focused way if I’m working to a deadline. In fact, I purposely don’t start things until, for example, I’ve only got 24 hours left to complete it. Otherwise, I procrastinate and then, when finished, endlessly tinker to make things ‘just right’.
The easiest way to make a goal meaningful is to use ordered lists and a high priority one bar. These two simple tools force you to make tough decisions early. An ordered list simply means putting your goals in priority order, most important at the top, least important at the bottom. Divide that list in half: the top are things you must do, or die (Priority 1). The rest are things you hope to do, but can live without (Priority 2). Make your priority 1 list as small as possible: set a high bar. The smaller your list of must do’s, the easier they are to achieve. You will face waves of conflicting emotions as you decide what is truly important, but once you settle on priorities the hard decisions will be behind you.
4. Share Your Secrets To Be The Change
I’ve always shared pretty much everything I’ve ever produced – from my university essays/theses to resources I use in the classroom. Others have been flabbergasted by this approach, finding it strange that I should give away for free what I’ve put so much work into. I have the opposite approach – I get back so much more than I give. I’m sure others reading this have found the same.
It’s for the above reasons that I found Share Your Secrets To Be The Change, a post on Lifehack.org, to be so affirming. I especially liked the bits about sharing ‘making your life happier’ and making you into a ‘hero’. Knowing that I’ve got an audience certainly makes me more productive.
Ever notice how putting your hand on your clock radio tends to clarify and boost the signal? You can use that same body-as-extended-antenna trick to locate your car in a stuffed parking lot. Hold your remote opening fob against your skull, hit the alarm (or beep-beep locking button), and you’ll locate your vehicle from farther away.
Have YOU got any productivity tips/hacks you’ve come across recently you’ve found useful? Share them in the comments section! 😀
I stumbled across Wixi today. It’s a combination of desktop operating system, file-sharing application and personal file repository. It reminds me of EyeOS with which I experimented a year or more ago. It’s currently supposed to be in invitation-only beta, but you can sign-up using this page and get unlimited storage!
Once you’ve created your account and logged-in, you can create folders and upload your media to the site. This can then be tagged and set as ‘private’ or ‘public’. If you set, say, some video as ‘public’, it can be streamed (but not downloaded) by visitors to your Wixi profile page. You, however, as the owner of the content, can both stream and download it no matter where you are. Wixi does not require any special software to run, other than a web browser (currently only Firefox and Internet Explorer).
Although I experienced a few minor and not-too-irritating bugs whilst uploading, I’ve found it a great (free!) service so far. I’m stumped, however, as to how they’re going to deal with potential copyright infringement law suits. A quick search for ‘DVD rip’ brought up a whole host of films uploaded by other users that I was able to add to my Wixi page and stream (full-screen!) almost immediately:
Wixi is definitely one to keep your eye on, especially as you are able to embed widgets to share your content in blogs, wikis, etc. I’m certainly not recommending this one for educational uses. I think this one’s for personal use only… 😉
Give it a spin, and add me as a friend – I’m on there as dajbelshaw. 😀